The Stress Monster Will Upset Your Balance
Author: Lori Radun
Turn on the news and you'll likely be bombarded with traumatic events and updates on the gloomy economy. Call up a friend and she might tell you her husband just lost his job, or a loved one was just diagnosed with cancer. Even in your own home, you may be worried about your child, or feel burdened by the number of responsibilities you have to juggle. The stress monster is always lurking just waiting to rob us of our internal peace and balance.
Stress in life is inevitable. In reality, some stress is actually good. We need that fight or flight reaction that occurs in our bodies when faced with emergency situations. Some amount of stress can motivate us to take action when we might otherwise drag our feet. Without a little bit of stress, life would probably be somewhat boring or unexciting. However, when stress is affecting our mood, our health, or the balance in our lives, it's time to do something about it.
Use these tips to put the stress monster in his cage:
Recognize Your Stress
Just like balance, stress is different for everyone. I remember one of the first vacation trips I took with my husband. We were in Cancun, Mexico and I wanted to have fun so I suggested we sign up for a parasailing adventure. This form of parasailing was a piece of cake, in my eyes. All we had to do was sit in this little chair together and the boat would take us for a ride over the ocean. My husband looked at me like I had lost my mind. This was not his idea of fun, but I convinced him that it would be great! Little did I know just how stressed out this experience would make him. While I was laughing and having the time of my life, he was ready to kill me. I believe it started the first argument of our relationship.
How do you know when you feel stress? Do you get irritable? Does your heart start pounding or do your palms sweat? Understand your stress reaction and get to know it well so you can identify stress in your life more quickly. What causes stress for you? Take a few moments to identify your stress triggers. When you know exactly what will send you over the edge, you can take steps to minimize those stressors.
Respond to Your Stress
Some stress in our lives requires us to respond differently than we have in the past. If a toddler tantrum rattles your nerves, consider the way you respond today. What makes the tantrum stressful? Much of the stress we encounter occurs because our perception colors our reality. Does a tantrum compromise your need to keep things under control, or does it make you question your parenting skills? Seeing a tantrum as anything other than a normal developmental response to frustration can cause stress for you. Changing your thoughts or perceptions can change your stress level.
If changing your thoughts does little to alleviate stress, you may need to change the stressor. The other day my client called with the goal of learning new stress management techniques. When I asked her what was causing her stress, she told me drywall guys were on their way to her house and she still needed to pack her daughter for a trip to Florida she was taking the next day. Her house was turned upside down, but the immediate need was getting her daughter prepared and out the door. When I suggested she reschedule the drywall project for another day, after her daughter was gone, she immediately felt relieved. While I waited on the phone, she asked the drywall guys to come the next day. She went from stressed to calm with only one choice. Instead of reacting to her stress and going through with the original plan, she responded and changed the course of her entire day.
Relax Your Stress
When you think about the word "relax", what comes to your mind? Is relaxation curling up on the sofa to read a good book, or lying on the beach allowing your body to soak in the sunshine? We might not be able to achieve our idea of relaxation all the time, but we can always close our eyes and transport ourselves wherever we want to be. It's called meditation or visualization. With practice, we have the ability to breathe deeply, center ourselves, and release stress within minutes. Soft music, candles and water are extremely calming as well. Try lighting a candle, turning on a peaceful song, or sitting by a mini water fountain you have hanging on your wall.
While relaxation is essential to reducing stress, so is exercising and burning off your stress. One way or the other, you must allow the stress to escape from your body. A brisk walk outside or biking around the neighborhood can do wonders for changing your frame of mind. One of my favorite ways to release stress and get in shape at the same time is through Tae Kwon Do. It gives me an excuse to yell, kick and punch in a safe environment.
When you learn to recognize, respond to, and relax your stress, you will reduce your stress level. With these four R's as weapons, the stress monster will stay sleeping quietly in his cage.
About the author: Lori Radun is the author of The Momnificent Life - Healthy and Balanced Living for Busy Moms. For more free tips on reducing mommy stress, visit her website at http://www.momnificent.com.
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